The arrest of a polite, hard-working, well-liked and “very private” Christchurch man over a woman’s murder has shocked his neighbours.
A 54-year-old labourer appeared in court on Monday charged with murdering a 27-year-old Christchurch woman found dead in the city suburb of Merivale on Saturday.
The man, who was granted interim name suppression during a brief appearance via audio visual link at Christchurch District Court, was remanded in custody without plea to appear in the High Court later this month.
Police allege that the man broke into the woman’s Exeter St home in the upmarket Merivale area, near North Hagley Park, armed with a knife.
Police say they knew each other.
Her body was found at around 11.40am on Saturday.
As specialist crime scene officers were seen scouring the man’s well-kept brick property in a block of townhouses across town in the eastern suburb of Aranui today, his neighbours were stunned to hear he’s been charged with murder.
“I’m very upset by this,” one woman said.
“I liked [the man]. He was always friendly, chatty. He was also a very private person.”
Another neighbour said the man worked long hours but would always stop and say hello.
“It’s very distressing actually,” she said.
Judge Jane Farish remanded the man in custody without plea to appear in the High Court on April 27. No application for bail was made.
The judge imposed suppression orders that include the defendant’s name, the victim’s identity, and the police summary of facts.
She said the interim suppression orders are necessary to protect not only the victim but fair trial rights, but stressed that they will likely be reviewed at the next court appearance.
Detective Inspector Darryl Sweeney said yesterday that police moved swiftly to track down the man they believe is behind the crimes.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the family of this young woman and police will be ensuring that they are supported following their tragic loss,” Sweeney said.
“Our police team of highly experienced and dedicated investigators have worked tirelessly to ensure justice for the victim and her family, and will continue to do so.”
Police say they will not release the woman’s identity until all family members have been informed of her death.
An autopsy is expected to be carried out today.
A team of experts continue to piece together information, with detectives and forensic specialists examining two scenes in Christchurch – one at Exeter St and one at Breezes Rd.
“Residents in those areas can expect to see a continued police presence over the next few days,” Sweeney said.
Two motor vehicles have also been seized for examination.
No one else is being sought in relation to the woman’s death, Sweeney said.
However, he said police would like to hear from anyone who was in the wider Exeter St area overnight Friday to Saturday that “may have heard or seen anything, or anyone, suspicious”.
People are asked to contact Canterbury Police on 03 363 7400 if they may have information or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.